I gotta pay maintenance AND child support?!

Your spouse is a deadbeat parent, hasn’t worked in five years and you are facing maintenance and child support. What is the freakin’ deal?! The law in Kentucky does not force a Judge to look at the reasons why a parent has not worked in the last five years. The law only allows the Judge to put the parties in a position similar to that as if they had never divorced with regards to maintenance, and with regards to child support, allows the Judge to impute income to a parent who is underemployed. Many people do not think this is fair and frequently wish the Judge would do more. Let’s look at maintenance and child support separately.

Maintenance, or alimony, is awarded to a party who has generally earned less than the other party and cannot provide for his or her own reasonable needs. That does not mean a party earning $45,000 will receive maintenance from a party earning $50,000. The disparity usually has to be greater. Maintenance is based on a party’s need for it, the other party’s ability to pay, the standard of living throughout marriage, the length of the marriage, the ability of the lower income party to acquire skills needed to support him or herself, and other factors. It is not based on the fact a party has simply not worked in five years. The Judge is likely to view the lack of employment as a decision made by both parties during the marriage no matter how much you protest otherwise. There is also no requirement that a Judge must impute income to a party for purposes of maintenance, though if child support is involved and income has been imputed for child support purposes, it will likely be imputed for maintenance as well.

Child Support is calculated by using both parties’ earning capacities. A person who graduated from Ronald McDonald’s on the job training does not have the same earning capacity as Doogie Howser, even though both choose not to work. Mr. McDonald will be imputed minimum wage and Doogie, well, he could be imputed anything. It will take some research to know what Doogie should be earning and that is where evidence comes into play. Nevertheless, as you will see, the law in Kentucky is drafted so as to prevent a person from simply not working in order to avoid child support. Child support is also calculated by using other factors such as maintenance, daycare, health insurance and any other extraordinary needs of a child. That requires another blog.

Why both maintenance and child support? Well, maintenance is to allow a party to meet his or her reasonable needs. Child support is for the children, even though there is no requirement that child support be used for specific things related to the children. The police are not going to check the recipients receipts. The law in Kentucky though, does allow the income of the person receiving maintenance to be increased for purposes of child support and the income for the person paying it, to be decreased. This is designed to prevent duplicate payment.

Deadbeat may in fact be a deadbeat and may have been a deadbeat for quite some time. However, in Kentucky, maintenance is not likely going to last for 50 years. The general rule of thumb for length of maintenance is a third of the marriage. Obviously if the marriage lasted for 25 years and the parties are 60 years old at the time of divorce, the maintenance award could indeed last until death. If the marriage was only three years though, maintenance would only be awarded for a year, if at all. This is not intended to define every situation. There are circumstances where the general rule does not apply. The discussion is endless and I won’t get into that now. I do hope I have given you some insight into Kentucky’s maintenance and child support laws so you can get deadbeat off the couch and into some income prior to calling me to divorce him or her.